Economic Development Seminar: Measurement of intergenerational mobility in developing countries, with evidence from India.
Paul Novosad, Dartmouth College
Estimating intergenerational mobility in developing countries is difficult because matched parent-child income records are rarely available and education is measured very coarsely. In particular, there are no established methods for comparing educational mobility for subsamples of the population when the education distribution is changing over time. We resolve these problems using new methods in partial identification and new administrative data, and study intergenerational mobility across groups and across space in India. Intergenerational mobility for the population as a whole has remained constant since liberalization, but cross-group changes have been substantial. Rising mobility among historically marginalized Scheduled Castes is almost exactly offset by declining intergenerational mobility among Muslims, a comparably sized group that has few constitutional protections. These findings contest the conventional wisdom that marginalized groups in India have been catching up on average. We also explore heterogeneity across space, generating the first high-resolution geographic measures of intergenerational mobility across India, with results across 5600 rural subdistricts and 2300 cities and towns. On average, children are most successful at exiting the bottom of the distribution in places that are southern, urban, or have higher average education levels.
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